Welcome to The Travis Law Firm. Serving as a Board Director is not easy - we understand. As volunteers who have agreed to provide leadership to your Association, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the Association. In order to provide leadership, you must have the all the information available when making decisions and not have to sort through pages of reports just to get it. Our firm provides you with the most up to date information regarding your cases, so you can quickly make the best decisions for the Association. We know that it is difficult to get the “big picture” when it comes to a collection case, because different companies manage different pieces of the information. We utilize an online system that allows you to query your Association’s data from our systems. It is secure and flexible enough for you or your community management company to incorporate the legal data into your existing reports or Board packets for a complete picture.
We provide the legal services you need to successfully lead your communities.
Please contact us if you have further questions or would like to discuss how we can work together.
- Why should our Board hire an attorney that focuses only on community association law?
An attorney who specializes in the representation of homeowner and condominium Associations understands the intricacies associated with these corporations. The attorney has a working knowledge of the Condominium Act, the Planned Communities Act and the Non-Profit Corporations Act, as well as the various Arizona cases that impact the operation and governance of an Association. The Board of Directors display sound business judgment by selecting an attorney to represent the Association who understands this area of law.
- Are you able to meet face to face with our Board if we need legal assistance?
Yes. We welcome the opportunity to meet with the Association’s Board of Directors to address the Association’s legal needs and form a long-term working relationship.
- Can Directors be personally sued by other owners in the Association in connection to their Board duties?
Yes, an individual Director may be sued. However, the Association should have Directors and Officers insurance coverage, which would apply in most instances where a Director would be sued. The insurer will provide an attorney to defend the lawsuit and indemnify you as a Director against any potential Judgment. As a Director, you should also follow the Business Judgment Rule outlined in A.R.S. §10-3830.
A Director’s guiding principle is to act in the best interest of the Association at all times.
- What factors should we consider when sending a case to collections?
Under your Association’s Declaration, the Board of Directors is charged with the duty to collect assessments from owners and has a fiduciary duty to adopt a collection policy or rule to address how it will handle owner accounts that are delinquent. When developing the collection policy, the Board of Directors should, at a minimum, consider the following:
- Amount of the debt
- Cost to collect debt
- Current ownership of the property
Once these factors have been considered, a policy can be developed. The Association must be diligent in pursuing the delinquency.
- What is the general flow of a collection case?
In our office, a collection case generally follows 5 steps:
1 – Initiate Case/ Research
2 – Send Initial Demand Letter
3 – File Lawsuit
4 – Obtain Judgment
5 – Garnishment
These steps are further broken down in our collection process. At any time during the process, the delinquent owner can pay their debt in full or agree to a repayment agreement to allow payments to be made over a set period of months.
- How and when does the Association receive payment from a delinquent account sent to your office?
The Association receives payment when the delinquent owner issues payment to our firm. We forward payment to your management company, noting the account that it should be applied to. In some instances, the check is made payable to our firm or paid through the credit card payment option. These funds will be held in our State Bar trust account for 10 business days, before they can be disbursed to the Association.
- When should an Association consider filing a Lien Foreclosure Complaint?
According to A.R.S. §33-1807 and A.R.S. §33-1256, the delinquent assessments must be greater than $1,200.00 or have been delinquent for a period exceeding 12 months in order to proceed with a lien foreclosure lawsuit. Then, the Association must determine whether the first mortgage holder, whose lien is superior to that of the Association’s, has recorded a Notice of Trustee Sale. If a Notice of Trustee Sale has been recorded, the Association should work with us to determine what the risks are to proceed with the judicial foreclosure process. Finally, the Association must consider whether to proceed to a Sherriff’s Sale or just obtain a Superior Court judgment against the owner. If the Association proceeds with a Sherriff’s Sale, then the Board of Directors must be prepared to take ownership of the property if there are no other bidders at the Sheriff’s Sale. contact us so we can assist you and your Association in every step of the Lien Foreclosure Process.
- What options exist for the Association to gain compliance for a violation of the Declaration or Rules?
An Association has many different tools to use to bring a lot into compliance with the Declaration or Rules. These tools range from the Association’s issuance of violation letters and an imposition of monetary penalties pursuant to A.R.S. §33-1242 and A.R.S §33-1805, to issuing legal demand letters, to the filing of a lawsuit in Superior Court seeking Injunctive Relief (pop-up with definition of Injunctive Relief: A court order prohibiting someone from doing a specified act or commanding someone to undo a wrong or injury). Each case is different and warrants the appropriate response from the Association. We can send covenant enforcement demand letters, or we can file a lawsuit to collect on the monetary penalties in an effort to bring the owner into compliance by opening dialogue to correct the underlying violation(s). Contact our office to let us help you determine the most effective way for your Association to solve these types of issues.
- What is the difference between monetary penalties and fines?
There is no material difference between the words “monetary penalties” and “fines.” The Arizona Legislature has authorized Associations to impose “monetary penalties” against owners in violation in A.R.S. §33-1803 and A.R.S. §33-1242, while the word “fines” is used in the municipal codes empowering a county or city to levy a fine against property owners for code violations.
- Can monetary penalties be included in the Assessment Lien or foreclosed upon?
Pursuant to A.R.S §33-1256 and A.R.S. §33-1807, monetary penalties are not part of an Association’s statutory lien. After obtaining a Judgment against the owner for the imposed monetary penalties, the Association can then record this Judgment. At that point, the judgment for the monetary penalties is a lien upon the property. An Association cannot file a lien foreclosure for the nonpayment of monetary penalties. contact us if you have any questions about monetary penalties.
- Does the Board need to notice all meetings of the Board of Directors to the Owners?
Yes. All meetings of the Board of Directors should be noticed pursuant to the provisions set forth in A.R.S. § 33-1248 for condominiums and A.R.S. §33-1804 for planned communities. Unless the Association’s Articles or Bylaws provide for a longer time, the Association must notice meetings of the Board of Directors to the owners at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting by “newsletter, conspicuous posting or any other reasonable means as determined by the board of directors.” “Reasonable means” includes posting on the Association’s website, a placed sandwich board at the community’s entrance or a separate mailer to each owner. In emergency circumstances, when notice cannot be given, the Board of Directors may meet per the statutory conditions. Board meetings serve as a valuable tool to communicate the business of the Association to its owners and allow the owners the opportunity to address the Board before a formal action is taken. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the noticing of Board meetings.
- What records of the Association must be provided to an owner upon written request?
A.R.S. §33-1258 and A.R.S. §33-1805 specify that “all financial and other records of the association shall be made reasonably available for examination by any owner or any person designated by the owner in writing as the owner’s representative,” except as set forth in Section B of the statute. These exceptions include attorney communication, pending or contemplated litigation, executive session minutes, documents related to “personal, health, and financial records” of individual owners, employees or contracted employees and certain employee or contracted employee’s records. If you have a question regarding any written request for records, contact us to ensure your Association complies with the statute in a timely manner.